SLADE / THEATRE, COVENTRY, 28/4/1974
I DON'T THINK it would have made the slightest difference what Slade did once they got on stage. The fans had decided they were going to have a crazee nite, come what may.
For in truth - and Noddy's unprintable exclamation when he left the stage bears me out - they were far from their best.
The packed audience on sunday certainly left no one in doubt that they were having a great time. Grannies, parents, teenagers and more than a few sub teenagersdanced, sang and gesticulated their way through the groups hour on stage.
Not even an army of bouncers could quell the enthusiasm -- Glitter, boots, braces and top hats - it was quite a colourful occasion. The programme however produced nothing quite as bright as the audience - merely a series of well tried numbers, released both as singles and on the group's albums.
The on stage antics created quite a number of contrasts. Jimmy - busy, always smiling, clearly enjoying himself; Don -- gum chewing and somewhat anonymous behind his drums (At one point, Noddy announced that Don had been featured once in the act and the swarthy drummer could be heard asking "When?")
Noddy -- the centre of attraction and the showman, the one to whom all the best lines fell, the one to keep things ticking over. Perhaps the strangest of the lot, Dave.
Small, but with enormous hands, he was right at the front of the stage while the music was playing , egging on the audience. But the moment the number finished, he was back against the amps, guitar at the sentry position, legs apart and ready to be summoned forward again.
So that was it. They came back for just one encore ("Mama Weer All Crazee Now") and were gone, themselves obviously dissatisfied with the evening. But I doubt if any of those who watched shared the disappointment.
They arrived in a chauffer driven Rolls. The audience were in the theatre, so their entrance was uneventful. Two dressing rooms awaited them -- one for changing, one for relaxing. The latter had a feast of apples, cheese, peanuts, crisps and ham. There was also wine, soft drinks and spirits. "Cheese and Rose wine are what keeps us going" joked Dave.
Jimmy was walking around chomping an apple. Don drinking dry ginger and Noddy - well mostly in the changing room.
"We've only done about a third of our gigs so far." said Don. (through a relay we could hear Beckett on stage warming up the audience). Greg Edwards, linkman, was a constant laugh. "I'm on this tour so they can have someone to get at," he said. "They're being nice tonight;there must be something up!".
"We're saving it for Wolverhampton tomorrow," threatened Jimmy, turning to a road manager who explained that the stage was narrower than some so they'd have to move his platform nearer the centre.
Dave told of their last time here, two years ago. "We were support group, I like Coventry Theatre. It's a good place to play." Jimmy added: "The place wasn't sold out though." (The noise from the speaker left no doubt that it WAS this time!)
Noddy came in, had a drink and they started to get ready. "They hold the competition now." said Don. "It's better than piped music to keep the kids happy. This is more fun."
While nervous contestants waited, Slade were in the changing room playing 'For The Love Of Money' by the O'Jays to warm up. Noddy appeared at the door and all the girls rushed to touch it when he had gone.
The contest.........Slade on stage........ complete uproar.
Then it was over. The boys came off, grabbed cans of coke. Noddy wasn't too happy -- he thought there was too much treble. But they took an encore.
Before leaving, Noddy and Dave wanted to restring their guitars . "We're playing at home tomorrow, so we want to make sure everything is alright." said Noddy.
When road managers and police were ready, the group dashed through the stage door to the Rolls. Cries of 'We want Slade' changed to screams of delight. It was goodbye.
Forgot - won
ALAN HAMMONDS of 14 Springhill road, Camp Hill estate, Nuneaton, forgot all about the Slade Crazee Nite contest until he arrived at the theatre. Despite this he won the contest to find the fan who looked most like the group.
Eighteen year old Alan, wearing red and green check waistcoat and matching trousers - short in the style of Noddy Holder - had planned to wear his outfit anyway. "My girlfriend, Kim Watkins, made it for me." he said, "It took her about a week."
Alan won a cassette tape recorder and a tape of Slade's latest album: He also met the group.
Michael Hewins & John Palmer, Coventry Evening Telegraph 4 May 1974
From the archive of Slade Historian Chris Selby
Slade in England © 2015